We have been bombarded with questions lately about the present and future prognosis for machinery using the controversial R22 refrigerant… This is a brief summary:

The situation regarding all hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs), including the refrigerant gas R22, is that as of 1st January 2015 its use will be illegal within the EU due to European regulations.

R22 refrigerant is commonly found in refrigeration systems, notably air conditioning units and heat pumps (both for swimming pools and for space heating). Whilst it has not been used in new systems since 2004, it became most significantly affected within the EU in 2010, when it was no longer able to be bought as new, and could only be used or bought as reclaimed or recycled. Over the last 4 years it has become increasingly harder and more expensive to come by.

So what happens to units with R22 refrigerant after 1st January 2015?
As after this date units cannot be topped up with R22 in any of its guises – new, recycled or even reclaimed – there leaves only 2 possibilities:

1. Replace the unit, or
2. Use a replacement refrigerant

There are a variety of factors to consider about what to do in the event of a breakdown of a unit using R22 refrigerant, such as:
· Age of the unit
· Likelihood of future recurrence
· Cost of the repair
· Availability of spare parts if required for future breakdowns
· Manufacturer’s advice regarding compatibility of their system with replacement refrigerants

Our advice is to base one’s decision on the cost of the repair in hand. If relatively inexpensive to replace the refrigerant, then it is worth doing, however, with manufacturers not required to maintain stocks of units beyond 10 years of their date of manufacture, it must be recognised and taken into consideration that the next breakdown could be irreparable due to lack of availability of spare parts. To avoid throwing good money after bad, unless relatively inexpensive, we would generally recommend to our customers that they would probably benefit in the medium and long term by opting for a replacement system. Here are some of the benefits of this strategy:

– Higher reliability of new systems
– Higher efficiency / energy savings
– Lower service costs / warranty on system
– Reduced carbon footprint

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